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Exercise bands are rubber bands that are used to perform a number of exercises using resistance. They are often called resistance bands, and they come in a variety of resistance levels, shapes, and lengths. Some exercise bands are simply loops of rubber that can be wrapped around the body's limbs or around a stationary object to provide resistance. Other bands are straight lengths of rubber with handles on either end. Both varieties of exercise bands come in different resistance levels that are delineated by the color of the band, and some bands come with versatile handles that accept more than one length of rubber band.
Perhaps the most common exercise bands are colored loops of rubber that may or may not have a soft padding either all the way around the band or at specific locations on the band. Such bands can be wrapped around arms and legs to enhance a specific exercise, or they may be looped around a fixed object and manipulated to create their own exercises. Looped exercise bands are useful for looping around the ball of the foot and pulling upward to execute biceps curls or other similar exercises. They are also useful during core exercises; the band can be wrapped around both knees while doing squats to engage core muscles.
Straight exercise bands with handles on either end are also useful for looping around the ball of the foot. These bands are usually longer than looped bands, so rowing exercises can be executed, as well as certain plyometrics exercises that promote explosive power. The handles are comfortable for gripping, but they are also useful for wrapping around stationary objects to provide resistance. Some versions of exercise bands with handles are actually part of a system with individual hand grips. The bands loop onto a hook system on the hand grips, and more than one band can be connected to the two grips to add even more resistance.
The color of the band indicates approximately how much resistance it will provide. Lighter colors usually provide less resistance, while darker colors provide more resistance. Exercise band resistance is not measured as accurately as weights, since the actual resistance provided by the band depends on the length it is pulled, how much force it is pulled with, and other various factors. To increase the resistance level beyond the limit of the highest resistance band, multiple bands can be held together.
You can do a pretty good resistance band workout with no other equipment than the band, but adding something to attach it to makes a big difference.
For instance, yes, you can do rows by sitting on the ground with your legs out in front of you and wrapping the band around your feet, but it's a little awkward. (I imagine if would be even more awkward if you were pregnant, like Kat919!) If you can find even a sturdy post to wrap the band around, you can work more effectively.
I invested in a couple of these to keep at home and especially to travel with. A nice lightweight resistance band is easy to pack and lets you blow off a little steam while you're on the road!
Resistance band exercises were a godsend for me when I was pregnant and didn't want to work out with heavy weights! They also seem to work the muscles differently. A weight can feel lighter at the very end of an exercise, while the band will keep getting tighter and tighter.
My gym has a class called Body Vive that uses resistance bands extensively. (Special purple ones, in fact, although some ladies prefer lighter or heavier bands.) I really learned some new moves from that class! Way beyond just your basic bicep curl. One that was new to me was the suitcase lift, which involves standing on the band and leaning forward, sticking your butt out behind you, while you grasp the handle. Then you straighten up.
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